Looking to get away, and also drink some good beer while you’re there? If you’re opting for a smaller vacation in a non-metro area, these beer towns are the perfect fit for you. Almost all are nestled in the West and are beautiful towns in their own right. When you consider the caliber of craft brewing they claim, you’ll be even more in awe.
Travelocity released a survey of 1,300 people regarding beer tourism and its rising level of interest. Following that information, the travel site then dug into the statistics with the Brewers Association to determine the best small metro areas that are ideal for a craft beer-centered vacation.
Before we get into the cities, here are a few of the ways they determined these specific areas. Factors essential to a ‘beercation’ include “the availability of rideshare services, accessibility via air and the average cost of lodging.”
6. Burlington-South Burlington, Vermont
Don’t knock Burlington until you’ve tried it! As an East Coaster at heart (and a fierce lover of New England), Burlington is one of those small, magical cities that is just big enough to feel like an oasis from the craziness of your normal life.
This area holds a wealth of top-notch breweries including, but not limited to, Switchback Brewing Company, Queen City Brewery, Magic Hat Brewing Company, Vermont Pub and Brewery, and Zero Gravity Craft Brewery.
5. Missoula, Montana
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Nestled in Big Sky Country is everyone’s favorite Montana city, Missoula. Explore the countryside all day long, and post up at one of their famous breweries for the ultimate getaway deep in the heart of the West.
I’ll recommend Big Sky Brewing as your first stop just because I have a personal affinity for Trout Slayer and Summer Honey, but you can’t go wrong with any choice in the taproom.
Other notable breweries include Draught Works Brewery, Highlander Beer, Great Burn Brewing, and Imagine Nation Brewing.
Oh, and don’t forget to stop into Kettle House Brewery for ColdSmoke, only found in Missoula.
4. Corvallis, Oregon
Inland from the Pacific Ocean sits the fourth best town for beer in the U.S., and Corvallis earns this recognition. While its growing every day, Corvallis still maintains a hometown feel while being only a drive away from of Oregon’s best natural tourism destinations.
So where should you head first? Oregon Trail Brewery, of course! It’s one of the older craft breweries in the country, beginning their journey in 1987. From there, skip to Sky High Brewing, Mazama Brewing, or Flat Tail Brewing. Whatever you choose, you won’t be disappointed.
3. Fort Collins-Loveland, Colorado
I should have prefaced this list with, even though these cities are statistically chosen using an accurate and sensical method, I am truly partial to Colorado breweries because you can’t beat sipping a sour beer on a rooftop looking out at the Rockies.
Which is exactly why it makes sense that Fort Collins and the Loveland area would be the third best beer town in the country.
So what breweries can Fort Collins and Loveland offer you? Let’s start with New Belgium Brewing Company and if you’re planning a visit, try to go during the Tour de Fat, a homegrown festival that now travels across the country.
Other notable choices are Funkwerks, Odell Brewing Company, Loveland Aleworks, Crow Hop Brewing Co., and Verboten Brewing.
2. Boulder, Colorado
Now I’m really going to gush. If you have to pick one city on this list, Boulder should be your first choice, regardless of what the statistics say. A craft beer heaven that’s accompanied by the beautiful Flatirons looming overhead, Boulder is just a skip away from Denver International Airport, making it ideal for a true beercation.
Your first stop should be Avery Brewing Co., whose new location is the bomb diggity, friends. Their beers are always fresh, inventive, and they are never lacking on their standbys, like Ellie’s Brown Ale. Visiting in the summer? Check the taproom for Liliko’i Kepolo.
It's BACK! Welcome summer with the annual release of our Limited Release Thai Style White IPA – NOW on tap & available in cans at both tap rooms! Plus, we'll have this brew on tap at the Upslope Get Down this Saturday, so come get your fill. >> Check out the rest of our American Craft Beer Week events here: http://bit.ly/1YzUhxJ #ACBW2016
Other must-visit breweries include Upslope Brewing Co., Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery (if you’re going during February, check Southern Sun’s Stout Month list), Twisted Pine Brewing Company, and head a tad north to Oskar Blues’ location in Longmont.
1. Bend, Oregon
That’s right, the number one small city destination for serious beer lovers seeking a real vacation should be Bend, Oregon. There are 22 craft breweries in Bend, and you know what, they’re all above average.
Your first stop should be Deschutes Brewery Bend Public House or Deschutes Brewery Bend Tasting Room. Their year-round lineup is stunning, including Black Butte Porter, Mirror Pond Pale Ale, Inversion IPA, Obsidian Stout, and Pacific Wonderland Lager. Their seasonal varieties are refreshing and include Hop Slice Summer Ale, an easy day drinking beer.
From there, mosey on down to Immersion Brewing, Boneyard Beer, Bridge 99 Brewery, or Sunriver Brewing. The list could go on and on, but I bet you’re ready to start planning a little getaway for the summer, aren’t you?